Sunday, February 13, 2011

Pharisee, Publican

("Publican" in this parable does not mean, as it does in England, the owner/keeper of a pub!  In Jesus' day, it meant a Jew who collected taxes on behalf of the Roman Empire and was therefore seen as a collaborator and traitor.  He also made his living, plus some a lot more, by cheating, over-charging, and extortion.  He was therefore a social outcast.)

We have seen the true Light,
We have received the Heavenly Spirit,
We have found the true Faith,
Worshipping the Undivided Trinity,
Who has saved us.

We Orthodox are always thankful, and ought to be, for Holy Orthodoxy.  We thank God that we are not floundering in the mire of strange "liturgies", that we do not suffer from doctrinal confusion, that we are not overrun with hard-core feminism, that so many things that are issues for other faiths simply are non-issues for us. 

The Pharisee thanked God, too, that he was not as other men.

When does this hymn, meant to be sung with tears of gratitude, become smug?  When does our joy in true Christianity become triumphalism?  Why does it sometimes turn ugly instead of beautiful?

Well, in me it happens the moment I stop repenting,  immediately I lose sight of my own deplorable inner condition.  A person can't repent and gloat at the same time. 


Emily H. said...

That's nearly the exact message Fr. George had for us in his sermon today (about retaining repentance). :)

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

Sin appears to be what the Pharisee and the Publican had in common, eh? Someone described the Pharisee's sins as "radiant crimes," virtues made sinful because exercised pridefully. I love that phrase, radiant crimes.

Isn't it a great good thing Lent is coming!

DebD said...

I heard a very similar message yesterday from Father G. about avoiding smugness in ourselves. I definitely need to keep it as a reminder.